Thursday, April 28, 2005

Sorry Lise, we suck...

So my housemate's play was pretty good.....I think. We did not actually make it in time to see it though. Big time SORRY for that. For compensation this is a picture of there acting group and this is their website.

Seems like our total and utter lack of planning did not work out this time. The thing is (brace yourself, here come the lame excuses...) that the housemate that convinced us to go see the play, celebrated the last day of her course a bit to enthousiastically and was not able to go. Then there were the three of us that planned to leave the house at 6.15 pm and be at a restaurant in Amsterdam at 7.00 pm (which is impossible when you think about it). So we were in Amsterdam at about 7.15 pm, cancelled our reservation at the restaurant, met up with Bas who was already in Amsterdam because he works there these days and tried to make a plan to save the night. We decided to go to the street the theater is in and get a quick snack. Bas thought the theatre was the same one he visited last year, but it wasn't, which left us with as much information as "it's somewhere in the Spuistraat" which is a whole lot of street. So we went to the Spuistraat entered a café and got a quick bite. The we walked all the way down the street to find the theatre. Of course the theatre was at the far end of the street, basically across the street from central station we left more than an hour before that moment. Then we discovered that we misinterpreted the start-of-the-play-time for the doors-open-time, so the play was already in progress for over 15 minutes and were not allowed to go in anymore. It's a good thing we didn't pick up the reserved tickets yet. Altogether we failed big time and I feel sorry for my housemate we screwed up.. To make something of the night after all we went to Waterlooplein and had a few beers.

Before this lame adventure I spend all day at the University Medical Centre in Utrecht for the neuroscience symposium day, had some nice discussions during the poster sessions and listened to some interesting talks. It was pretty tiring to keep alert and listen from 9 am to 5 pm, but it was cool to see all the projects that my fellow students participate in.

Repairing my laptop will cost 380 euros (crazy!!) which is 40 dollars to much to just let it repair. Now an expert of the insurance company has to examine at first which will probably take another couple of days. It is getting less and less likely it will be repaired in time. Bummer!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Motor Maths

I finished the Motor Systems course today. Well, i still have to write 2 reports but I do not have to show up anywhere anymore. Today we discussed to models for arm movements. The most important one describes hand and arm movements with no regard to the neural system but on a higher level based on miniziming the jerkiness of a movement. It states that movements are made as smooth as possible. Than we tried to use the model to calculate the trajectory of the hand of a dart-player when throwing darts.

It took me 4 pages of math, but I managed to solve this system of equations with 6 (!!) variables. I was pretty proud..

Well I am back home now and in a while I will have a nice meal with my girlfriend Sita, watch the dutch soccerteam PSV hopefully beat AC Milan in the semi-finals of the Champions League. Then we will sweat the laziness away with an hour of squash and we will end the night in bar.

Tomorrow morning I will have to be present at the Neuroscience symposium at 9 am and I am scheduled for the afternoon poster session. I am looking forward to discuss my experimental results and see what others have done. In the evening I will go to Amsterdam to watch a play, one of my roommates acts in. But first we will go out for dinner in Amsterdam with some people...

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Notebook crash...

A terrible thing happened this morning. Sita accidentally bumped my notebook of my desk while walking past it and the screen did not survive the drop...

I checked with an external monitor and The hard drives an stuff seem to be OK, but the screen is F****D. We already contacted the insurance company and a repair company, but it is going to be a close call whether it will be repaired before I need to leave for the USA. Even still, it is not sure it will be repaired at all, because a new screen ain't cheap and might even be just as expensive as a new laptop. Right now I can do nothing but hope for the best...

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

More electrodes and hard work...

Another day in the Motor Systems course today. We adressed speech and yes, it involved another set of electrodes... We measured the open and closed position of the vocal chord and related it with speaking in a noisy environment. The relevance of such measurements were not completely clear, but it is obviously useful in developing strategies for louder speaking, There should be more to it though.

I also finished my research poster for the Neuroscience Symposium next week. I just need to get it printed and I am ready to go! I might actually get to work on my cerebellar learning model this week....

Thursday, April 14, 2005

I booked!!

I booked my ticket today. I will leave Amsterdam at 10.30 in the morning on may 16 to fly the astonishing distance to Frankfurt, where I will catch my flight to Portland. I will return at november 7, with a stop in Chicago. So now I can start thinking about the practical stuff one has to think of if you want to spend 6 months working abroad...

Monday, April 11, 2005

Culture and science

It's been a while but I've been kind of busy. I actually still am, but working for 24h a day would be wrong (even for me). Last sunday my friends and I went downtown to take part in one of the city's "Cultural Sundays". Museums were open (and entrance was free) and there were lectures, theater, music performances and special expositions everywhere. It was all fun, but I especially liked the lecture on the comparison of microscopic photos and famous artworks.

Today I got the good news that the second guy I invited to look at my room liked it enough to want to live here and pay my rent while I am in the USA. I spend half the day processing data the wrong way. I made a little mistake in writing the script for the processing, so I spend the second half of the day making up for my mistake..

I'm finished now, so there's some time to post and relax. Tomorrow morning I'll take an early train to Roterdam and the science-circus starts again :P

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Eye coil

Today was the second day of the Helmholtz Course Motor Systems. The day was dedicated to 3d-rotation of the eye, ways to look at it, calculate with it and measure it. I spend some time with a coil in my eye sitting in a cube with two magnetic fields that induced small currents in the coil depending on the position of the coil (and therefore the eye) in the magnetic field. After a couple of minutes the view of the eye with the coil gets blurry and it stays like that for about half an hour after removing the coil. Now (a few hours later) I can see sharp again with the eye but it still feels like something is in it. It'll probably wear off soon...

Monday, April 04, 2005

US Embassy

So today I had my appointment at the US embassy in Amsterdam to convince those weird americans that I am truly not a terrorist and I will just visit their beloved country, pay for everything and return home after six months. It was a sunny day and the embassy is located at the museumplein in Amsterdam near the Vondelpark, so that wasn't too bad. I saw the funniest thing; a bunch of kids just sitting around on the grass when suddenly the sprinklers started working. It was really funny watching them get surprised and run. The embassy by the way is like a fort. Double fences, metal detectors and grumpy armed men. They were pissed off because I had my mobile phone on me (but in the phonecall they only mentioned that cameras weren't allowed), then they started complaining my photographs might not be clear enough, but in the end, nothing was really much of a problem and I will have my passport back on wednesday with my visa stamped in it. In total this only costs about 175 euros and a shitload of time and patience. Now I can start looking for the appropriate flight...